This was an exercise in abstracting natural forms in my watercolor class. Our teacher, who paints marvelously, is encouraging us to think more in terms of abstraction and symbol rather than literally painting what we see in front of us. I ‘get it’ and am doing the exercises and such, but there’s still a part of me that wants a tree to look like a tree with all the leafy bits (although not TOO fussy.) I’m guessing that my style will even out somewhere between the two, under the influence of my own predilections, likes and dislikes and gentle influence of other teachers yet to come. I love the California school painters with their abstraction and wild colors, but I also love Sargent and his beautiful loose renderings that simultaneously reveal and suggest. And I adore the crisp geometric patterns of Dong Kingman and the sweeping emotional scenes of Emil Kosa and the controlled wildness of Charles Reid. All of them – they all touch my heart, much as I like early music like that of Talis as well as jazz (but only if it swings.) Must we fit in only one mold?
Synchronistically, I opened a random art magazine to a random page and came up with an interview with Tony Pro an oil painter. Pro relates how he had the opportunity to meet Richard Schmid (author of Alla Prima and many other outstanding books.) Pro says that Schmid was kind but honest in reviewing his work, and advised him to be true to himself and not to copy others. Pro concluded with what what is today’s art advice: “Don’t paint like someone else to impress someone – work only to impress yourself.”
Geometric trees may be sophisticated, but for now they just don’t swing. Maybe they will some day – I’ll have to wait and see.